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Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Donkeyfumbler » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:32 am

I don't want to press the panic button too early but I have to admit the recent usenet.com judgement has me a bit spooked.

It may not have set a precedent (quite) but it's the first step on the road to taking on other, more established (and less stupid) newsgroup providers. From what I've read, the consensus appears to be that the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA in the US will not apply when the provider is aware that the majority of their business comes from facilitating copyright infringement, and, realistically, what major newsgroup provider can claim that this isn't the case?

Now of course no provider keeps download logs so everyone should be safe, right. Even if the provider get's taken to court and loses, there will be no comeback for the users.

I'd like to believe 100% that this is the case, and maybe I need an extra tinfoil hat, but we only have Giganews', Astraweb's et al's word for it that they aren't keeping logs. Let's face it, these are companies that are sailing fairly close to the wind as it is. Who is to say that they don't keep logs and then will offer them up to the media cartels in attempt to do some kind of deal, or are keeping them for more honourable reasons but are ordered to turn them over by the courts? Are they really deserving of our trust?

I know that every other case has always involved the uploading of files, but downloading on it's own is still a grey area whether in the US, UK or Europe, and it could be argued that it has never been tested before because A. The potential rewards to the RIAA/MPAA aren't so large and B. The evidence has always been open to question and so they could not guarantee they would win, setting a massive precedent if they were to lose.

For newsgroups, point B would not apply. At least with other forms of sharing (torrents, emule, winmx and others) there is always the potential defense of 'someone must have hacked my wep protected wireless network' but it's a bit trickier to claim that they nicked your credit card details too!

It will be interesting to see what the final judgement in the usenet.com case will be in terms of damages and the potential handing over of information, and if info is handed over, to see exactly what that info is.

Be interesting to hear all of your opinions of this and to find out if anyone is either scaling back or outright moving elsewhere (and where?)
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby malcontent » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:56 am

Usenet.com got nailed because they advertised on their website about all the copyrighted material that their customers/future customers would be able do download. If they signed up and used their service. The mistake was how they advertised their service. You will notice, no other usenet provider is dumb enough to advertise like usenet.com did. Besides, there are usenet providers outside the USA. Some beyond the reach of any USA court order.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, use your usenet providers European servers.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Donkeyfumbler » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:11 am

I'm not sure it would make me any more comfortable using their european servers - if the company is American then the logs (if they exist) would either still be held in the US or at least be within the reach of US courts.

Of course the DMCA/Safe Harbor thing only refers to US providers, but the thing is that the majority of providers (at least the bigger ones) are American. Also at least the safe harbor thing offers some defense for Giganews and others, but who know's what the laws are in Singapore (where Astraweb's parent company are registered) and there is no explicit safe harbor provision in any European country that I am aware of.

IMO the fact that usenet were dumb merely made them the first target and thus an easy way in for the media cartels and a good way to get momentum on their side before they go after the not-so-stupid providers.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby LANjackal » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:46 am

TBH from my observation Usenet's being killed by free filehosting services anyway. I haven't had to resort to Usenet to download anything for ~4mths now, which was unheard of before.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Donkeyfumbler » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:02 am

Interesting. I visit sites like rlslog and zerosec to get details about new stuff but I've never used any of the links that various users post to the free filehosting sites, mainly due to the obvious dangers of viruses and also because the various services I have used in the past have either been slow, awkward to use or have daily limits for free users.

I'd be interested to know what you are using, where you get the links and how you guard against malware LANjackal.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby enigmax » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:00 am

The Ivacy VPN service includes not only an encrypted VPN, but free newsgroups too :idea:
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby altpdend » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:24 am

i wouldn't worry to much like it was earlier usenet.com got nailed for advertising and Destroying evidence so the judge would not allow them to use safe habor defense. There have already been many cases that court ave said safe harbor applies to usenet i remember one big case in 2001. I am sure the riaa will try but thease are big compaines are not little indivals they can fight back and i am sure if they keep pushing the big Isp then will get in fight because first nsps than isps.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Donkeyfumbler » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:43 am

enigmax wrote:The Ivacy VPN service includes not only an encrypted VPN, but free newsgroups too :idea:


Interesting service - thanks for the info, but I'm not sure how it really differs from SSL newsgroups in the privacy stakes.

For torrenting for example, the RIAA would be able to trace an IP back to Ivacy and therefore send them the notice of copyright infringement. What are Ivacy going to do then? They can't just ignore it, but at the same time they supposedly cannot link it to an indvidual user because they don't keep logs.

In the case of newsgroups, the same would apply to Ivacy as to any provider - if they are prosecuted and lose then they may be forced to hand over whatever logs they have and we can only take their word for it that logs aren't being kept.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby altpdend » Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:45 am

hre is a post on another fourm that I yhink got it righ




Somebody tell me if I'm getting this at least vaguely right. In "boiled-down 5-year-old speak" it happened like this:

RIAA: These people advertised and ran a music pirating site. Their website meta-tags advertised "warez." The text on the website claimed they could download unlimited music (which they had no license to) for a nominal fee.

Usenet.com: No, we didn't. We just hosted content. It didn't matter to us what kind of content. That fee could've gotten them any kind of video. I had no way of knowing it was music.

Judge: Okay, we'll convene the jury to examine your hard drives and listen to testimony from your employees to determine if they encouraged downloading unlicensed music content.

Usenet.com: Sorry, but the hard drives were destroyed yesterday with programs specifically designed to wipe and trace of information.

Judge: And where are the key employees to testify about business operations and goals?

Usenet.com: Burma.

Judge: And when are they coming back?

Usenet.com: I'm really not sure. I just flew them out on the corporate jet. I don't have a travel itinerary.

Judge: I see. Can I have your company's internal memos?

Usenet.com: They were accidentally shredded.

Judge: Well, clearly there's no evidence for the jury to examine.

Usenet.com: But I'm a safe harbor! I swear, I didn't encourage anybody to download music!

Judge: Clearly, you've made every effort to destroy evidence showing that you did encourage people to download music. I'm not going to allow you to benefit from trying to obstruct the legal process by destroying evidence before it could be brought to the court, so I'm not allowing this defense.

Usenet.com: But that's my only defense!

Judge: Then you're guilty. I see no reason to waste a jury's time. Shall we proceed to sentencing?

#

Is this at least the general idea of what happened? Because though it seems a a bit harsh, I do agree that there should be strong penalties for destroying evidence. Otherwise anybody and everybody brought to trial would have a "mysterious fire" or "just happen to decide to shred every document in the office" and then we'd never be able to determine the truth of ANYTHING.

I suppose part of me thinks that rather than not allow the defense, Usenet.com should be brought up on charges of destroying evidence or obstruction of justice. But is that allowed in a civil case?
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Donkeyfumbler » Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:56 am

It's certainly an interesting point that they weren't allowed to mount a 'safe harbor' defence (which has been discussed in another thread in the news section in some more detail) and I would presume that anyone else would be able to try and use it (providing they haven't acted as idiotically as usenet.com).

The RIAA can't have known when they started out that the judge would disallow it as a defence, which suggests that they were willing to take a significant risk on the case. I wonder if we should be grateful that the judge did disallow it - if usenet.com had tried it and still lost then it would have set a big precedent. As it is, they now have to try and pick their next target, who one presumes will be significantly tougher and should be allowed to use the 'safe harbor' argument. One thing is sure, when that happens it will be a case than neither side can afford to lose.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Maestro120 » Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:59 am

Donkeyfumbler wrote:It's certainly an interesting point that they weren't allowed to mount a 'safe harbor' defence (which has been discussed in another thread in the news section in some more detail) and I would presume that anyone else would be able to try and use it (providing they haven't acted as idiotically as usenet.com).

The RIAA can't have known when they started out that the judge would disallow it as a defence, which suggests that they were willing to take a significant risk on the case. I wonder if we should be grateful that the judge did disallow it - if usenet.com had tried it and still lost then it would have set a big precedent. As it is, they now have to try and pick their next target, who one presumes will be significantly tougher and should be allowed to use the 'safe harbor' argument. One thing is sure, when that happens it will be a case than neither side can afford to lose.


Which is why if the RIAA does decide to go after Giganews (I think the other providers outside the US currently have little to worry about... does Singapore even care about filesharing ?), they are not going to make a move until they are dead certain the "safe harbor" protection can be knocked over. Because if they lose this case the precedent set will protect Usenet from further law suits forever (or at least until Congress decides to overturn the safe harbor provision).
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Donkeyfumbler » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:48 am

i imagine they won't go after Giganews but one of the smaller providers with less resources and less money to spend on lawyers. I just hope that the bigger providers realise that they will effectively be on trial too and come up with some kind of combined defence fund.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby MrFredPFL » Fri Jul 03, 2009 1:54 pm

Donkeyfumbler wrote:providing they haven't acted as idiotically as usenet.com

i think that sums it up perfectly.

Maestro: according to this post, it would seem that yes, singapore does care about filesharing.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby sofla100 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:30 pm

Keeping logs would violate the contract between the Usenet provider and the purchaser. The legal problem then would revert to the Provider. Also, you've got no chain of custody under these cricumstances at all. Bottom line, torrents are the big risk, much bigger then Usenet. Nobody hacks into WPA2 by the way. Also, Usenet is increasingly loaded with non-copyrighted materials as well. Hulu.net stuff. Safe harbor, absolutely.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby gorlov » Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:40 am

sofla100 wrote:Keeping logs would violate the contract between the Usenet provider and the purchaser. The legal problem then would revert to the Provider.



No provider in their right mind would log downloads. That would only create problems for the provider, both practical, (it would be huge logs!), and legal problems.

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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby windtrader » Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:56 am

Also, Usenet is increasingly loaded with non-copyrighted materials as well. Hulu.net stuff. Safe harbor, absolutely.
A very key defense point is usenet has been around from the beginning of the internet and very long history of serving many valid uses. And as you mention a much greater variety of public domain data than p2p.

Other general positive points for Usenet:
* Usenet groups still serve as legitimate pre web forums, particularly in areas where network access is limited and text is king.
* Nearly all ISP at one time offered and supported usenet as a legitimate and legal service, less now today.
* There are many legitimate uses and also many legitimate actors involved in usenet.
* Percentage wise of file sharing using usenet must be much less than p2p, " certainly the low hanging fruit". How much battle would be warranted to get the last ones (i.e. usenet), knowing it would be much more costly and protracted.
* Usenet providers are much better funded since they have real revenue, operate as real businesses, more resources to defend themselves , more business savvy, and more vested in protecting their operation.
* Possibly large ISP that offered usenet would also get caught up in usenet lawsuits if it were argued that if it was illegal they are liable as well. It would not be hard to show the basic content and use of usenet has not changed materially over the past several years.

Hopefully, usenet stays strong and untouched but it still does rattle me a bit when I keep hearing nzb sites get hassled. Maybe they do it since it requires so little effort to shake these guys off the tree and just make other pause.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby klondike » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:27 pm

Its all boils down to trust.It doesn't matter what Giganews says.If they say no we don't log users do you still take their word on trust?Its each to its own.
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby Wrinkles » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:25 pm

klondike wrote:Its all boils down to trust.It doesn't matter what Giganews says.If they say no we don't log users do you still take their word on trust?Its each to its own.


A business is a business, which means they look out for there OWN best interest!
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Re: Is it time to abandon newsgroups

Postby gorlov » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:24 am

Wrinkles wrote:
klondike wrote:Its all boils down to trust.It doesn't matter what Giganews says.If they say no we don't log users do you still take their word on trust?Its each to its own.


A business is a business, which means they look out for there OWN best interest!



And the best interest for ANY provider is to NOT log downloads. Logging downloads benefits no one, certainly not the provider.

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